Shopping with my Eyes Open

I am continuing on my journey to be a more informed, conscientious buyer of things. I have used the Buycott app and further online research to make informed decisions about what everyday products I am bringing into my home, and what causes the companies selling those products are supporting or not. The following is what I have so far decided about my buying choices.

picture_20161203_163727009Goodbye to Old Friends

It’s high time I kick this addiction anyway. I have been buying far too much over the past months. Smartfood is manufactured by FritoLay whose Parent Company is Pepsico. This is one of the top ten money-making companies, but I would like to point out that according to WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers Score Card, they are one of the companies leading the way in supporting sustainable palm oil sources. However, the company has also donated millions of dollars against GMO labeling campaigns, its CEO/ median worker pay ratio is very low, and this company is giving us the illusion of choice.

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I’ve kept Nesquick in my cupboard pretty consistently over the years. It was a way to get milk into my daughter from time to time as I worry about her calcium intake and poor little growing bones. Her being such a picky eater does not help. We don’t drink a lot of milk to begin with, but there it is. I also like that it is, ‘Iron Enriched’, as I struggle with my iron levels, and I do often squirt it into my morning coffee. Turns out it is made by Nestle, one of the worst companies out there. I elaborate a bit more on that company later in this post.

I’ve bought Burt’s Bees products for a long time. I like their lip products, and find they work well. 240But it would appear they have sold out to the Clorox Company who supports GMO labeling. What I know about the bee population dying off is that the main contributing cause is neonicotinoids, a pesticide used to coat a crop in the seedling stage, and heavily used in genetically modified crops. This makes me uneasy. One of the suggestions to help save the bees is to buy as much organic as possible, and shop at local farmers markets. Also, General Mills, the owner of Honeynut Cheerios with that friendly little carton bee on the boxes? They spent millions of dollars against GMO labeling. That’s weird… I seem to recall them trying to run their own little, ‘save the bee’, campaign. Huh. Having said that, General Mills is also one of the companies leading the way to sustainable palm oil practices. This is tricky! BUT, I will now opt for MoistStic Natural Lip Protection which a friend casually handed off to me, because it works excellently. And it would seem the company is causing no harm to things. Bonus! Now I just have to find out where to buy it when this tube runs out.

img_20161203_100145 I used to be a loyal buyer of Dawn dish soap. I thought of just what they had pasted on their labels; that sweet, fluffy, little duckling, freshly rid of a coat of oil slick from a spill. At some point I heard that Dawn was the miracle product on the scene of the oil spill rescue operations? But Dawn is also a Procter and Gamble product which I will delve a bit further into later in this post. I have given them enough money to head plenty of oil spill clean ups in future. For now I am replacing it with a President’s Choice dish detergent.

img_20161202_213633 I have bought the cats various brands of cat food over the years, but the most tried and true, convenient and affordable, has proven to be Purina Cat Chow. The last kind I fed them, (and I was not paying attention to labels beyond nutritional content), they certainly did not appreciate. Of course we went through the entire bag before I switched them back to their preferred Purina stuff. While at the grocery store I noticed a President’s Choice brand that could do instead, and is actually cheaper. I believe I did buy a brand of theirs for some time, but then it disappeared from the shelves. We must remember to look into all products we buy for our furry friends too. Why not Purina? It is produced by Nestle too.

img_20161202_213809*Sigh. Delissio pizza. The main dinner default for my daughter and I. Add some extra cheese and olives 10 minutes into cooking it, and 10 more minutes later it is ready to devour. I was growing quite fond of their Vintage brand. What we have sometimes done is make our own pizza, the dough I used palm oil free, and it tasted far superior of course. And all the toppings I choose to cover it in can be Buycott app approved. Though a little more time-consuming, I’d say it’s worth it. I also came across a thin crust President’s Choice oven pizza that might be decent.Why not Delissio? Nestle is why.

picture_20161203_163034716Degree is the deodorant I have not veered away from much over the years. I even headed to my local natural food store at one point to pick up some earth-friendlier kinds. One, Liquid Rock by Kiss my Lips, was free of aluminum chlorhydrate, parabens, propylene glycol, artificial fragrance, animal testing, animal ingredients AND was on sale. Okay, but it did cost about 3x more than Degree, and also DID NOT WORK. I tried to pretend for a while that it kind of did, but on especially sweaty days, it was undeniable that it really didn’t so much.

The other one I tried was Lafes deodorant stick which is basically a rock. I remember my dad used to buy them, referring to it as his, “hippy crystal”. I believe I gave it a try back then too, but that could’ve been in the days before I’d even developed body odor. It is made up of natural mineral salts said to eliminate bacteria. No staining, no parabens, no propylene glycol, no animal testing, 1% proceeds go to breast cancer and again, no worky! It also claims to protect for 24 hours. If sitting still in the shade of a tree on a mild spring day,  … maybe? I do believe it did some reducing of bacteria and held off the stink for a bit, but not long.*This was the summer when I tried both of these products.

So the hunt for a new deodorant shall continue. I will no longer buy Degree, but I also would not like to stink within 5 minutes of applying the product. I may as well just go deodorant free! But then I would have to shower too frequently, and we are in a water crisis here people!

 Companies whose Products I will be Boycotting Entirely

picture_20161203_215619934Nestle achieved a rating of 6 on the Palm Buyers Score Card. Only 24% of palm oil in their products has so far been sustainably sourced. Also, the Buycott app shows me that Nestle conflicts with 5 of my campaigns: Boycott chocolate produced by child slaves, End animal testing, and Illusion of choice. Apparently there were 89 other reasons to boycott this company, and that just doesn’t seem right. This is why Delissio pizza, Nesquick and Purina cat food are items going out my window, so to speak.

Procter & Gamble achieved almost as poorly as Nestle on the Palm Buyers Score Card with a 7. Only 41% of their palm oil is sustainably sourced. They are a member of the GMA, (so against GMO labeling), not supporting my Climate Counts campaign, (so not working to reduce their carbon footprint), and also still test their products on animals. So, “Byeeeee!”

Campbells rated a 2 on the Palm Oil Buyers Score Card which means they haven’t even begun to make efforts to source their palm oil from sustainable suppliers. Their soup is getting a little out of reach anyway, and I have for the most part been buying No Name and President’s Choice soup for a while now. One day I will be making my own hearty home-made soups that my daughter will enjoy immensely. I am certain of it.

General Mills did score well on the Palm Oil Buyers Score Card, leading the way to sustainability for palm oil. However, they still do test products on animals, fight against GMO labeling, source chocolate from areas of west Africa where child labour is still prevalent, and are one of the rich Big Ten corporations giving us the illusion of choice.

picture_20161202_214727564Unilever also achieved a top mark on the Palm Oil Buyers Score Card, but because they are still testing products on animals, fighting GMO labeling, and presenting to us an  illusion of choice, I’d rather not support them. St.Ives has been my facial scrub choice for eons since I thought they were at least an environmentally friendly one. Tresemme is my choice of shampoo, because it’s the one most hairdressers seem to recommend the most. The first and only time I bought the face moisturizer, Simple, I was duped by its all natural label. Flip it over and Unilever is right there on the back of it.

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My two favourite, (and what I have always considered most delicious,) brands of ice cream I will be buying no more, even when they are on sale. Hagendaaz is unfortunately a Nestle product, and although Ben and Jerrys does carry the Free Trade Certified label, they are still produced by Unilever. It is President’s Choice Candy Cane ice cream in my freezer right now, and my daughter and I quite enjoy it.

Clover Leaf:  I buy a lot of tuna, but will never buy it from these guys again, because they do not support sustainable fishing practices

Okay, now that I have finished listing off companies I am not willing to support in my purchasing, I would like to share something I’ve found that might simplify this noble endeavour of mine:

President’s choice and No Name brands are produced by the Canadian company, Loblaw Companies Limited, and this  would seem to be a safe bet. Not only does the Buycott app not flag them for anything, I went to the company’s website, looked over their 2015 corporate social responsibility report, and it appears they are making some very promising commitments to: responsible sourcing, (palm oil certified and MSC certified products, and removing plastic microbeads from their Life brand), animal welfare (cage free egg sources, and loose housing rather than factor farming from meat suppliers,) environment (reduce carbon emissions, launch biodegradable products, and get a water footprint assessment), community (nutrition tours for school programs and supporting children’s charities), and more. Also, I find President’s Choice products to be pretty good and I collect the points. The No Name brand also belongs to this company, and they are affordable and pretty good too. So when it comes to food from grocery stores, these are the brands I will be looking at as my ‘safe default’.

In the bathroom

The bathroom turned out to be a bit of a scary place as far as enlightening myself to the products I had contained therein.img_20161204_114144 I normally buy Sensodyne, because a long time ago a dentist identified my teeth as being sensitive, gave me a sample tube and told me to use this forever and always. I found no conflicts with the company who makes it, gsk, so “phew!” The tube in my bathroom is currently Pro Sensitive by Arm and Hammer and this manufacturer still tests on animal so, “oops”. When this is out I will opt back to Sensodyne. My daughter’s toothpaste, on the other hand, is made by Colgate. I did discover that Colgate Palmolive is leading the way to sustainable palm products; they scored a 9. They also do not test on animals and support my ClimateCounts campaign according to Buycott. They are a  member of the GMA, which means they support GMO, but I’m going to not sweat this one too much.The hand soap I tend to buy, Softsoap is also made by Colgate Palmolive. But then I realized the refill I bought is Soft Spa, which I found no conflicts over through Buycott so BONUS. I may look for an alternative to these items, but want to say here that companies moving in the right direction of progress are at least doing that. And most families won’t be making their own  toothpaste or spending top dollar for alternative kinds either. Let’s be reasonable. Most of us just ain’t got the time or money for that!

Our body wash is OK!picture_20161203_164438073

Live Clean products aren’t the cheapest. but they smell delicious and keep my conscience clear. Made by a Canadian company,they are plant derived, sulphate free, petroleum free, DEA free(drug enforcement administration? Not sure…), paraben free, silicone free, phosphate free, dye free, pure vegan, never tested on animals, and their packaging is recyclable. I may look at their hair products as well seeing as how I need another option anyway.

My Make-ups and perfumes are NOT OK

picture_20161203_164100168Body Shop belongs to  L’Oreal, which many beauty products do, because it’s a big company. It happens to test on animals, has spent millions of dollars against GMO labeling, does not support my boycott chocolate from child slaves campaign, and is practicing the illusion of choice. Somewhere along the line I got it in my head that these were the cream of the crop beauty supply makers, all natural and all good. Wrong-o!

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If it is makeup, body spray, perfume or a hair product,  I am just going to assume for now that the company tests on animals. The big names you can be sure of: L’Oreal, Unilever, P&G and Estee Lauder. I have particularly come to admire Rimmel products over the years, but alas, they belong to Coty Inc. and Coty Inc. tests on animals. I’ve just decided to refrain from buying any more of these products until I have found reasonable alternatives I can actually afford.

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I guess I shouldn’t really be so surprised  many companies still practice animal testing, since it does seem to take  humanity an awfully long time to progress in anything. As for cleaning products and detergents, I might just get back to natural ones I can make myself. I have done this before, and though the people I lived with at the time winced a little when they saw me spraying the counter tops and table with vinegar and lemon solution, there didn’t seem to be any kind of plague spreading around, so win!

The best way of all to be sure your money is not going toward supporting big-greedy-testing on animals-buying chocolate harvested by child slaves-slaying the orangutans and rainforests-fighting GMO labeling and our right to choose what we buy- kind of companies, is to not buy much at all.The key words for me these days are, “simplify” and “minimalism”. This also happens to work out great for me, because I have very little money. I will be paying careful attention to the items I consider buying. I will question who makes them, I will question if I need it or can make do without it. I will continue to look in at second-hand stores for clothing or at least make sure when I do buy new they are quality, sustainably made items that will last us. I will continue to be crafty and make as many things as I can get away with.

If I can feel like I am making good buying choices, I can feel like I am playing my part in helping the planet. I can feel in control of something in my life when it so often feels like I am powerless; to make my own choices, live my own way, and ultimately not have my entire way of living dictated to me.

Let’s just try to live responsibly, thoughtfully, carefully, to the best of our abilities. I will not be making anymore blog entries regarding this issue, but will continue to pay it mind everyday as I live my life. Please share any thoughts you have in regards to this topic! I am a great appreciator of other people’s input, when it is informed and constructive of course.

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